What Not To Say To Someone With Breast Cancer

My friend Sarah recently posted a link to this article from Care2, written by Ann Pietrangelo, about the 10 Odd Things to Say to Someone with Breast Cancer. As someone with an interest in sexuality and differing abilities, I found this article to be very interesting. While many health issues can impact a person’s sexuality, breast cancer is one of those health issues that tends to be mentally and physically linked to sexuality. Pietrangelo mentions hearing “at least it’s not an arm or a leg or something you really have to use” about getting a mastectomy. Full disclosure: I do not have breast cancer, I do not know what she is dealing with. But I can’t even imagine someone saying something like that to me. While I know my life would be incredibly different if I had to have a limb removed, my life would be incredibly impacted if I had a mastectomy.

Another comment that made me raise my eyebrows was “Don’t be a wimp”. Oh, really? Now, breast cancer does run in my family and I saw my grandmother battle it. I never was a witness to my grandmother being a “wimp”, but she occasionally did get overwhelmed by what was happening. I should note that she never once felt bad for herself (did I mention she was diagnosed a month to the day that her husband died of a stroke?) – but I wouldn’t have blamed her or even been upset if she did. The last comment that really got under my skin was assuming that Pietrangelo will have “more credibility” as health writer now (what does that say about anyone that blogs here, hrm?). Yikes.

If you liked that article, Pietrangelo has written some great articles chronicling her breast cancer. She does note that despite some of these hurtful comments, she knows sometimes people talk without thinking (erm, not like I’ve ever done that) and that she has received many kind words and acts.

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About Holly Moyseenko

Holly Moyseenko is a sex educator living in Ohio. She is an advocate of positive and healthy sexuality. Holly currently works for a non-profit health organization as a health educator, and also teaches workshops that focus on many topics within the realm of healthy sexuality. In her spare time, she also is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, gardens, reads anything within reach, drinks copious amounts of tea, and naps with her two dogs.